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Whatever I have done in my life and whatever I do in the future is not going to save the planet. However, I try to do as little as possible to hasten its demise – I once heard an environmentalist getting somewhat exasperated with a climate-change denier to the point where eventually all she could say was ‘look, even if what you say is true, isn’t living kindly, thoughtfully and realistically sustainably just a nicer way to be?’ Quite.

I’m cautious about claiming my work to be ‘sustainable’ or for me to be an ‘environmental’ artist though. It feels a little disingenuous to do so. Yes, I do use a lot of recycled, rescued, found objects in my work and it is true that I am now loathe buy any new materials; my studio is already clogged with things both found and bought – some of the latter were purchased in days when I (along with most others) was less environmentally savvy. I have some small quantities of exotic hardwoods which, although the seller assured me were sustainably sourced I don’t think my conscience would allow me to buy again. The less said about the feathers and furs in a camphor-sodden box from my fly-tying phase whilst writing my second book the better.

I generally cannot bring myself to throw anything away simply because now its provenance might be frowned upon; I will continue to carve brooches from ebony for as long as my existing stock lasts; if I need more I will be much more selective and judicious about where I source it from. I recently wondered if I could commit myself to not buying any further new materials from which to make things; to everything being sourced second-hand. It’s not a big ask, bearing in mind the amount of stuff the last thirty years of production has amassed. I reckoned that a project entitled ‘Nothing New’ might get some hollow laughs at least; this is the art world, after all.

The primary reason that I use found materials in my work is more to do with entertainment than it is to do with environment though. Today, considering the ready availability of pretty much anything, pretty much tomorrow, it becomes extremely hard, as a maker or an artist, to know which rabbit to chase – I will always have more ideas than I will ever have time to realise and with such an array of instantly available materials promising to help me realise any one of them I often quite literally don’t know where to start.

So, having some conversation-starters in the form of found offerings from the universe saves me much wasted dialogue. In the early 2000s I made a large drawing/collage on a thick, rough sheet of watercolour paper which harboured a vertical crease top to bottom. The piece became concerned initially with that imperfection, then with imperfection in general. All the other sheets of paper I had at the time were all flat and samey. Ironically they all got thrown away by a careless framer in Bath, but ‘A Development (in)tolerance’ is still on the wall next to me in my office, in its frame made by a man who doesn’t cut corners. Twenty years of hanging out and the crease is nowhere to be seen.

I can’t promise that my work is 100% sustainable, ethical, biodegradable, free-range or organic. It may contain artificial preservatives, colours and other additives, but I do try my best to create things with thought, care and mindfulness towards the resources that I am using to do so. I try to be more stone.